When I was in high school and sitting in math class, I noticed that someone who had class in the same room during another period — most likely a girl because of the large rounded, bubbly print — had written two letters on the desk: Hi. So I wrote back — and soon, our shared desktop was covered with a conversation. Then, one day, she wrote her name: Kim.
My friends, adolescent testosterone and nerd-ness surging through their bodies, were jealous and full of fantastical ideas. “What do you mean you don’t know who Kim is?” one of them asked — and he then proceeded to fill me in on the deeds, the actions, the beauty, and the popularity of the notorious Kim.
At the end of the school year, as I was unpacking my locker, Kim passed by and I said, “Um, Kim? Hi. I’m Kevin, the guy from the desk in math class.”
With her California tan and eyelashes mascara-ed out to here, she looked me up, she looked me down, and she simply said, “Oh.” She snapped her head and spun her body — a move that broke all the rules of physics because, despite the speed of her body, her blonde hair moved in slow motion and then resettled itself, perfectly, across her upper back and shoulders — and she walked away. With Kim’s one-syllable response, our year-long conversation came to an end.
When I started this blog, all of the gurus and guides stressed the importance of researching your blog niche and to look for top blogs and to comment. That’s how I discovered A Way to Garden, the number one gardening blog in America — and for good reason. There was information, calendars, humor, advice, giveaways, photos — so, so much. And then there was the style and design and professionalism of the woman behind the blog, Margaret Roach.
I knew Margaret’s name from her work as the first garden editor at Martha Stewart Living and then editorial director of other projects within the Martha Stewart organization — and so I wasn’t surprised with the quality of the blog’s presentation. Not only did Margaret have class, she was at the head of the class.
I wondered, did I — could I — even approach the most popular girl in the blogging world? Was Margaret my new Kim? Did I want to be that kid who wrote on a desk for a year and then was ultimately rejected with an “oh?”
With the blog gurus as my guides, I commented on Margaret’s posts. I tried to offer something to the conversation, but somehow I always seemed to fall flat. If there was a way to stumble over words while typing, that’s what I did. Doubt. Anxiety. All those adolescent insecurities. They all bubbled up. Maybe I was out of my league. Maybe this was the Kim scenario all over again.
Or maybe I needed a more professional venue — so I approached Margaret on LinkedIn. No response. I guess this was the “oh” moment.
Months passed — until I received a LinkedIn notification and a short emailed note, an apology from Margaret for not accepting my connection request sooner. “She wrote back,” I wanted to shout. “She wrote back!” But . . . now what? I’m terrible at small talk, but was I also terrible at small — what would you call it, these days? — texts? Tweets?
My opening came soon after on Twitter, when Margaret, listening to an evening serenade of frogs, tweeted: “Apparently nobody told the frogboys out back that mating season officially ended here already. Croaking up a storm today.”
I sat down, my fingertips on the laptop. This was my chance to make an impression, to say something of value, to stand out from the gardening crowd. I typed back to her: “With the moon and stars as our light, the time for love is always right. :)”
I debated back and forth. Send. Don’t send. Send. Don’t send. Send.
The response came back — three exclamation points. What did that even mean? My heart raced, my stomach flipped — this was Kim’s physics-defying spin all over again. Were Margaret’s exclamations a symbol of alarm? Laughter? Mock offense? Or the worst: a digital “oh?”
I tweeted back right away, fingers racing across the keyboard: “I hope you didn’t mind. I just couldn’t resist. Hope things quiet down for you. Be well and enjoy the day.” Nice save in 140 characters or less, I hoped. Whew!
Weeks later, the email of all emails arrived. It was from Margaret, and although it was addressed to all garden bloggers in her garden blogger group, I like to think it was addressed specifically to me. It was an announcement and a question. Her newest book, The Backyard Parables, was scheduled for release in mid-January and would you — me? — be interested in participating in her blog tour to promote it?
Like she had to ask? To say that I was thrilled, excited, honored — well, words could not, cannot even describe how it felt to be a part of something that I didn’t quite understand. I mean, what’s a blog tour? Was she going to travel to my garden for an interview? Was I driving north to her garden? Would we be traveling on a cross country bus, like rock stars?
All I knew was that Margaret asked and I accepted. There was no looking me up and no looking me down. Nor was there a crushing dismissal. Instead, there was a “blog tour,” and that sounded so much better than “oh.”